being contrary

by pasdelabas

The site Gallery: Sheffield

A time and a place

Visit One.

It is Saturday around 12.30 and I’ve left the Showroom with my two younger daughters in it.  They are on a craft workshop before watching a film.  I’ve gone to get a sandwich from the Site Gallery, just up the road and a bit better value for food I thought.

It’s not the first visit like this and I know there is a gallery behind the café.  I’ve looked in before but this time I look through the apparently half open door and the room is being made up for another exhibition.  I think I see a ladder there, things on the floor looking in process, working bits and pieces.

I look nervously wondering if I am just being shy and in some way know it is an exhibition maybe of some sort.  I’m not sure so I look up towards the desk from the café and catch an eye but don’t think there is anything being said.

I take a sandwich and return to the film.

Visit Two.

It is the following Saturday around 12.30 and I’ve left the Showroom with my two younger daughters and two of their friends in it.  They are on a craft workshop before watching a film.  I’ve gone to get a sandwich from the Site Gallery, just up the road and not a bit better value for food I thought but I know there is an exhibition there this time.  It’s about art and practicing it with other people.

I walk in through the café and there it is.  Like it was last week but this time I’m closer up.  I know it is something but I think I need to look at each bit before I know where I am.  I am nervous again, need to orientate myself. A table in the centre with three people sitting around it, they look like they are crafting something.  Other figures in the background.  Others walking in and out from the real entrance to the gallery.

I later find that there is more sense in coming from that entrance, light comes in  too.

I ask a question, something like: What are you doing?  And I am answered much better than this:  This is not really an exhibition more it is something in process.  We are ten artists who are exploring how art can relate to people, how we can make art with people rather than just by ourselves. 

The walls are very tempting.  They are white and tall, they have things stuck to them and written on them.  One side says: [what does] PLACE [mean to you], the other [what does] TIME [mean to you].  Some answers and a lot of space but I’ve not got time yet.

Visit Three.

The artists have agreed that I can bring the four girls with me to the gallery after the film.  I warn them that they are lively and noisy and I hope that is OK?  It is I am assured.  It is.

We arrive and one girl clings to me too shy to look away.  She recovers by frame knitting for a while.  What are the girls drawn to do?  They love the frame knitting.  One girl asks if the artist is knitting a scarf?  I’m not knitting anything comes the reply; knitting is just an excuse for a conversation really.  They loved the frame knitting.

They are taken with the plasticine figures.  Why has it got a willy? one girl asks.

There is a room set aside.  It has chairs in a semi-circle with a knitted knotted rope across them.  Other things not functioning are in the room. Some photos saying something appearing worthy, a music system apparently not working; the artists are not here today.

No matter.  The chairs are draped.  Why? I ask an artist who appears there?  Why meditation? It is about finding where art is from?  Where does it come from?  People have told me that they experience making art like a meditation.

The children disturbed something at one point.  I didn’t really know what.  It didn’t matter I hope.  They stop.

But carry on.  They make plasticine figures to be in the photo shot of a lovely K1000 Pentax!  That they enjoy, looking through the viewfinder too. If only they knew the joys of the light meter!

Some of them write and draw on the walls, about PLACE and TIME.  They don’t touch the soil.  Was the earth artist there?  They don’t potato print.  Don’t make a message from advertising texts.  They don’t find an object from around and about.

I do.  I steal a loo roll from the Showroom and leave a Gallery label in its place.  I bring it back and it is catalogued and exhibited by me which I like.

I’m bothered by something at this point.  I have to write a label for my object and I’ve taken a white loo roll.  What was the point in that?  I know that for the moment my thinking is very contrary.  Literally.  I am working on the assumption that the opposite of what is appearing to be said is what is actually happening.

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